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Full text of "The Centenary pulpit : a collection of pastoral prayers"

THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT CHAPEL HILL 



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THE COLLECTION OF 
NORTH CAROLINIANA 

ENDOWED BY 

JOHN SPRUNT HILL 
CLASS OF 1889 



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ASTORAL 



RAYERS 



The Centenary Pulpit 



A COLLECTION OF PASTORAL PRAYERS 



By Dr. Mark Depp 




CENTENARY METHODIST CHURCH 

Winston-Salem, North Carolina 



FIRST EDITION • OCTOBER 1957 







The Centenary Pulpit 











Thou, by whom we come to God, the Life, 
the Truth, the Way; the path of prayer Thyself hath trod: Lord, 
teach us how to pray!" Humbly, our Father, we make the words 
of the old hymn our petition this morning. Sometimes how ear- 
nestly we pray for some things which we ought not to have and 
which certainly are far less than the best Thy holy and loving wis- 
dom has for us; and then sometimes how indifferent we are to the 
things of greater value, pouring out our souls in desire for that 
which is second best and then unmindful and careless of those 
things which matter most. And we himnbly pray, our Father, that 
Thou wilt hear us not for what we ask but for what we need. How 
often we are like children who cry in the night and with no lan- 
guage but a cry, and how we come flinging ourselves on Thy lov- 
ing wisdom and Thy righteous purpose — children in their de- 
pendence and their need seeking the guidance and the wisdom 
and the strength of the Father. 

We thank Thee, O God, for those hours of insight and of under- 
standing and of vision; those hours "when the spirit's true en- 
dowments stand out clearly from its false ones" — for them we are 
grateful. But we lift our prayer this morning that we might have 
courage and grace and steadfastness to hold steady when the road 
is long and when the burden is heavy and when the day is drab. 



Help us to understand that we fulfill our high calling under God 
in the fidelity which we show in the dark day and in the difficult 
place. We come lifting before Thee our prayer for all those of any 
name or sign who this holy day come to Thee in devout worship. 
Make real to them, we pray Thee, the treasures of grace — a fresh 
sense of Thy presence, a new confidence in Thee — the pressure of 
the guiding Hand — the leading of the kindly Light. 

But we come praying, likewise, for those who do not look to 
Thee in humble and devout worship but who should; not less 
needy because imconscious of their need — for them, too, we pray 
that something may come, something may happen; some word, 
some remembrance, some bit of longing that will turn wayward 
thoughts and willful spirits to the great source of life. Thou art 
the fountain freely flowing for us all. Help us to hear the voice of 
the Son of God as He calls us to stoop down and to drink and to 
live. And let, we humbly pray, the words of our mouths and the 
meditations of our hearts, no less, be acceptable in Thy sight, O 
Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen. 





Lord, Thou hast searched us and known 
us. Thou knowest our downsitting and our uprising. Thou under- 
standest our thoughts afar off and art acquainted with all our 
ways. Whither shall we go from Thy spirit or whither shall we flee 
from Thy presence? If we ascend up into heaven Thou art there" 
— far beyond our highest thought, our noblest concept. And if we 
make our beds in hell Thou art there, for no one of us may fall 
lower or wander farther than Thy mercy. Thine is the light that 
follows all our way and the love that will not let us go. If we say 
that darkness will conceal us — darkness and light are both alike 
to Thee. "Search us, O God, and know our hearts. Try us and 
know our thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in us and lead 
us in the way everlasting." 

Thus, our Father, in the ancient and measured cadences of Thy 
Word we come this morning to make our humble confession and 
to offer our earnest prayer. Let us, we beseech Thee, be no stran- 
gers to the questing spirit which is ours at our best, for if we are of 
the earth earthy, as we are, are we not likewise of the heavenly 
heavenly? Help us not to despise our birthright or to treat casually 
our heritage. And for the aspiration of our hearts, for the wistful- 
ness and the yearning of spirit, for the something about us that 
marks us kin with Thee, for that we thank Thee. 



Forgive us. Lord, that so often we trail our garments in the dust. 
Forgive us that so often we forget our sonship with Thee. Make us 
more and more aware of the great word of the Book that we are 
the sons of God. Give us Thy grace, we pray Thee, as we seek to 
hold in proper and wholesome balance these Christian graces and 
virtues about which we think and read. Help us to be compassion- 
ate without softness. Help us to be humble without weakness. 
Help us to be strong without pride. 

Give us some part in the company of those who lose themselves 
in the faithful and loving service of God. Give to us, we pray Thee, 
an insight into Thy Word. Give to us some understanding of hu- 
man life. Give us the grace to look at the world about us with clear 
and steady eyes and yet believe in the best and to hope for it. 

And in this hour as we wait before Thee, speak to us we pray — 
filling our minds with truth and wisdom, filling our hearts with 
love, and kindness, filling our hands with usefulness and giving 
us some hiunble part in the company of those who know Thee and 
who seek to do Thy holy will. Hear us, O Spirit of God, because 
out of our need we lift our prayer in the spirit of our Lord. Amen. 





Thou who art the "Lord of all being, 
throned afar, whose glory flames from sun and star; the center 
and soul of every sphere", yet so near to each loving heart that 
Jesus taught us to call Thee Father — Who art caring for us, draw- 
ing near to us, loving us — the greatest of friends, the truest of 
teachers, the dearest of comrades — forgiving us, redeeming us, 
saving our lives from destruction; we draw near to worship on 
this holy day and in this holy place bringing to Thee our common 
praise, our common gratitude, our common penitence and making 
to Thee our common prayer. 

We are not unmindful of our unworthiness, O God, even as we 
draw near in worship — perhaps for that very reason the more 
mindful of our weaknesses. Thou art perfect in goodness and we 
are marked by flaw and fault and defect. Thou art perfect in love 
and we are not always loving or lovable. Thou art perfect in wis- 
dom and we grope our way so often amid the shadows. Thou art 
righteous altogether. How could we come — how would we dare 
come to lift so much as our eyes to Thee, let alone our voices, ex- 
cept we come with penitence in our hearts? And grant to Thy 
people everywhere here in this sanctuary this morning, listening 
in to this service and all who draw near by faith — grant them so 
much of humility and so much of earnestness and so much of 



wistf ulness and yearning that this may be for them a high hour of 
the soul and that this place may be for them the very gate of 
heaven. 

We bring our prayers, our Father, for those whose names even 
now we whisper in our hearts — some of them beside us in the 
pew, perhaps; some of them thousands of miles removed and yet 
whispering their names now. Thou dost know them so much bet- 
ter than we. Thou dost know them so much better than they know 
themselves — their hopes and their fears and their joys and their 
sorrows and their problems and their temptations. Even now as 
we whisper before Thee their names, those we love and to whom 
our hearts go out whether near or far, bring to them that which 
they most need, we beseech Thee. 

And for ourselves we pray, that our hearts might be open; that 
our minds might be alert and kindled; that our spirits might be 
sensitive to Thee and to all Thy gracious coming. Send us forth 
from this place, we beseech Thee, having been hearers of the word 
to become faithful and loyal doers of it. And we pray, O God, that 
Thou wilt hear us this hour not for what we ask but for what we 
need because we bring our prayer in the spirit of Jesus Christ our 
Lord. Amen. A 




ford. Thou hast been our dwelling place in all genera- 
tions; before the mountains were brought forth or ever Thou 
hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to 
everlasting. Thou art God." It comforts us. Eternal Father, to 
know that Thou art above, forever above and forever beyond all 
the changes of time and all the turmoil of the years — forever the 
same. And we who stand in the midst of the stress and strain of 
the years come now to cast the anchor of our faith in Thee and to 
rest our hearts in Thee. 

We come to Thee reverently, for Thou art a great God and a 
great King above all gods; Thou only art the Lord and beside Thee 
there is no other. We come humbly, standing as we do always and 
evermore in need of Thy grace and of Thy mercy. Thou art God 
and we are but men. We come gratefully. How constant is Thy 
goodness and how unfailing Thy loving-kindness and tender 
mercy. And we come penitently. How else would we dare come, 
O God; for if Thou shouldst mark iniquity, who cotild stand? 
How far we have come short of Thy loving and righteous will for 
us and how far we come short of that which in our better moments 
— moments of insight and understanding — of those goals and 
standards which we have set for ourselves. 

Especially, our Father, we pray for those who are in particular 

7 



need — of comfort, some; of strength, some; of encouragement, 
some; of fellowship, some — but all of us standing in need of a 
new sense of Thy nearness, a new consciousness of Thy presence 
on all the field of life. 

We lift our prayer for the children and the youth of the church 
and the world, especially in this season of the year when the tramp 
of their feet going to school and to college fills our ears. Forgive 
us, O God, that we have given them a world as disorganized and 
as discontented and as jealous and selfish as this — nation set 
against nation, oft — and within nations group against group too 
much; class divided from class; even the church. Thy church di- 
vided tragically. Forgive us and help us to be patient with them as 
they seek to build a better world than they have inherited and a 
better world than we have made. And help them to remember 
their Creator in the days of youth, that evil days of bitterness and 
disillusionment may never come. Be to them guide and guard 
through all the changing experiences of life, keeping them in all 
their ways, keeping them in all Thy will. And let, we pray Thee, 
let Thy kingdom come in all the earth; for we pray it in Jesus' 
name and for His sake. Amen. 



8 




•nfinitely great and holy art Thou, O Lord God, Heavenly 
King, Father Almighty. Thou art from everlasting to everlasting 
and yet Thou art the gracious and tender shepherd of the hurry- 
ing years of men. Thou dost dwell in light which we cannot ap- 
proach nor understand, yet Thou art the gracious comrade of the 
shadowed ways of earth. Thou art the righteous Father, righteous 
in all Thy ways, yet Thou art the Father of infinite compassion. 
"Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who 
fear him." Thou art perfect in wisdom and yet how very patient 
with us as we grope our way in folly and in ignorance and in 
darkness. 

O God, who art not beyond answering to our deepest need, we 
come now to bow in this mystic fellowship of prayer, here in this 
holy place with its memories and associations and on this holy 
day — the day of all the week the best. We do not pray that Thou 
wilt come to us, our Father, for we believe that Thou art here 
waiting for us to come to Thee. We do pray from the bottom of 
our hearts that we might not be imaAvare of Thy presence. We do 
not pray that Thou wilt speak to us for Thou art always speaking 
to us. We pray from our heart that we might not be deaf when 
Thou dost speak. 

Here we would lift the eyes of faith to behold things very far 

9 



off and yet very near at hand, too. Here we would hear what only 
can be heard in the quietness of every man's soul. We come to 
confess our sins — not alone the dark and gross sins of the flesh 
that howl through life like hurricanes and tempests, although we 
are by no means strangers to these, but we come to confess other 
sins more subtle and not less strong — the bigotry which blinds us 
to brotherhood; the envy and the jealousy; the selfishness; the 
prejudice; and whatever mars the image of Christ in our hearts 
and lives. 

And we come praying for Thy grace even as we read a moment 
since from the Holy Word — for grace to cast off the works of 
darkness and to put on the armor of light. Make in our own spirits 
some adequate preparation for the great day of Christendom 
toward which we move now with hastening feet. Hear us, O God, 
not because we are worthy but because we are needy and because 
out of our need we lift our prayer in the spirit of Jesus our Lord. 
Amen. 




10 




God, who art the Light of all our seeing 
and the Hope of all our expectations and the Goal of all our striv- 
ings, we come now in humble and devout worship to Thee. We 
believe that we see life most clearly and to best purpose when we 
see it in the light of Thy divine truth and of Thy holy will for us. 
Deep in our hearts we know, for we have found it in our own ex- 
perience, that consciously sometimes and unconsciously often — 
but not less surely — we seek those things which are to be found 
only in Thee. "Our restless spirits yearn for Thee where'er our 
changeful lot is cast." 

Be patient with us, O Father in Heaven, when we are blind — 
and foolish — and self-willed — and stubborn. We want freedom, 
and yet we fling away sometimes, impatient of those wholesome 
disciplines and those wise restraints by which freedom — real free- 
dom — alone is to be found. We want to be happy; only Thou dost 
know how every one of us longs for that — and yet we are some- 
times blind and indifferent to those paths which alone lead to hap- 
piness. We want to find some satisfaction for the inner thirst, the 
deep thirst, of our spirits; and yet sometimes we turn away from 
the flowing fountain of life to make our fruitless way to those 
broken cisterns which hold no water. Thou hast seen these same 
foolish and hurtful experiments made over and over again — and 



11 



dost wait in patience until, disciplined by life and humbled by fail- 
ure, we make our way back again to the Fountain of all waters and 
to the Light that never fails. 

We pray, our Father, this morning for those who are glad- 
hearted that they might know how to be grateful and to give some 
fitting expression to their gratitude. But we pray, likewise, for the 
heavy-hearted that they might not be in despair but that they 
might know the comfort and the peace of our God. We pray for 
those who are weak that they might be made strong in the grace 
and the power of God. And we pray for those who are strong that 
they might dedicate their strength to Thee. 

Teach us, we beseech Thee, to learn deep in our hearts and be- 
fore too much of the good day of life be spent and we have so 
little to show for its spending, teach us to imderstand that in Thy 
service is our freedom and in Thy will is our peace. Give us, we 
pray Thee, grace to live as they should who are children of God 
and who have eternity to live in. Amen. 



12 




Thou Who art most high and most loving, 
most holy and most compassionate, most gracious and patient; 
whose glory and power are reflected in the beauty of the earth and 
the sea and the sky; we come now to worship Thee. We lift to 
Thee our grateful hearts for Thy goodness which surrounds us 
by day and by night; and we lift penitent hearts, too, that we take 
so much for granted and that we forget easily and almost remem- 
ber with reluctance so that our praises are scant and our gratitude 
weak. 

Forgive us, our Father, when we fix our thoughts on those things 
which make for anxieties, for doubt, for fear, for uncertainty 
when we might just as well fix them on those things which make 
for faith and steadfastness, for confidence and for courage. For- 
give us, our Father, when we make so much of the things that are 
seen and then make so little of the things that are not seen. 

We thank Thee for all the blessings and the joys of this mortal 
life and of this world which is our home in Thy providence; for 
families and friends; for work and for play; for love and for 
laughter. But we thank Thee, too, for that world which lies above 
and beyond our world — that world of the unseen and the eternal 
and for these dreams which lift us above the dust; for these hopes 
which run out beyond the horizon of the years; for the bright 

13 



promise of life that shall endless be; for all the tug of Thy Spirit 
and the things of eternity; for those things which will not let us 
be content in the midst of the things that are seen and tangible — 
for these we thank Thee, too. 

Hear the prayer, O God, which we lift this morning for the in- 
tegrity and the security of our beloved country; for the peace of 
the world; for the brotherhood of men everywhere; for the happi- 
ness and the welfare of those we love and who love us and whose 
names are now in our hearts; for those who are beside us and those 
who are far from us and yet not farther than thought, and love, 
and prayer. This morning, O God, make us sensitive to every seri- 
ous thought. Make us sensitive to Thy presence, conscious that 
Thou art here, the nearest of friends, the truest of guides, the 
greatest of helpers — and save us from the sheer folly of being 
indifferent to Thy spirit. Let no one have come this morning and 
leave this house today without some insight, some uplift of his 
spirit; for we pray it in Jesus' name. Amen. 




14 




Thou Eternal and Infinite Spirit, who art 
above us, greater and higher than our greatest and highest 
thought; who art around us, enfolding us in Thine infinite com- 
passion and tender love; who art within us, closer to us than 
breathing and nearer than hands or feet; we bless Thee; we wor- 
ship Thee. 

Thou dost see us, our Father, as we are and Thou dost know us 
better than we know ourselves. The fault which we scarcely 
acknowledge even to ourselves; the folly and the weakness which 
we would hide from the eyes of men — all of these are open to 
Thee. Save us from the folly of pretending, even in prayer. But we 
thank Thee, O God, Thou dost know us in the secret place of our 
being for what we want to become. Thou dost see there the secret 
longing to be pure, to be strong, to be good. Thou dost see there 
the loathing and the contempt for what is weak and unworthy — 
"sinful, sighing to be blest; bound, yet longing to be free." 

And if the thought that Thou dost see us as we are brings to us 
a moment of solemnity, it brings to us likewise no small satisfac- 
tion. Men look — they must look — upon the outward things, but 
Thou dost look upon the heart. In the secret place of our being, 
we beseech Thee, keep us true and loyal and good. Forgive us, we 
pray, our sinfulness, but forgive us likewise our shallowness and 

15 



our stubbornness and our stupidity. Be merciful to us, we beseech 
Thee, O God, in our wickedness, but be merciful to us likewise in 
our weakness; in the aimlessness and the emptiness of so much 
of our living. 

Let Thy truth teach us. Let Thy light lead us. Let Thy spirit sus- 
tain us in the way that we should go. In times of gladness we pray 
that Thou wilt keep us grateful and humble; and in hours of sor- 
row, let not our faith in Thee fail. Hear us, because we bring our 
prayer in the faith and spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen. 




16 




God, our Father in heaven and on earth, 
exalted on high, yet not far from any one of us; forever beyond 
the full understanding of our minds, yet close to the needs and 
the hopes of our hearts; behold us as we come now, a company of 
people who bear the name and sign of Christ, in this holy place 
with its associations and memories and on this holy day with its 
reminder of the things of the spirit and of eternity to worship 
Thee. And as we now bow our heads before Thee, we lift up our 
hearts. 

Here we lift our voices in songs of praise and of thanksgiving. 
Here we stand to declare our faith in Thee, the Father Almighty 
and in Jesus Christ, our living Lord; in the forgiveness of our sins 
and in the fellowship of the saints and in eternal life by Thy 
mercy. Here we come to confess our sins. We do not dare come 
except we come with confessions trembling in our hearts and 
faltering on our lips; we who have gone too much after our own 
ways and too little after the way of God. Here we seek Thee in the 
mystic fellowship of prayer, our hearts hushed that we might hear 
Thy voice, waiting in the quietness that Thou mayest speak to us. 

Come to us, O Spirit Divine, we pray Thee, with that gift which 
we need most — comfort for some; forgiveness for all; guidance 
which we need so much; healing of the hurts of life; peace in our 

17 



souls; strength for the tasks that the days bring. Keep Thy hand 
upon us, O Spirit of God, whether we walk in the sunshine or in 
the shadow; when we walk in the shadow, lest we stumble and 
fall and are utterly cast down; and when we walk in the sunshine, 
no less, lest in too great confidence we stray from Thee and miss 
the path of life. 

Especially on this day* with its meaning for us in this congrega- 
tion, we remember with grateful hearts the dear and faithful dead 
who make the distant heavens a home to our hearts and whose 
beauty and grace are yet with us. Give to us, we humbly pray 
Thee, our own humble place in the church militant, doing our 
work as we are encouraged by their example, and lifting our testi- 
mony in the place where we stand; and then, at last, of Thy great 
mercy, some place in the church triumphant, which is before the 
throne of God. 

"Some humble door among Thy many mansions. 
Some sheltering shade where sin and striving cease, 
And flows forever through heaven's green expansions 
The river of Thy peace." Amen. 



"'Memorial Window Dedication 
18 




Thou Divine Spirit, in whose likeness we 
have been created, behold us now as we turn aside from the busy 
cares and the activities of the week to this place and on this day 
to worship Thee. We come, our Father, to open our minds and our 
hearts to Thee and we pray that here for this time the harsh and 
shrill sounds of the world might be still and that we might hear 
Thy voice; that the glitter of the world might fade and grow dim 
while we lift our eyes to behold the beauty of the Lord; that the 
clamorous and the lusty desires of the flesh might subside and 
that the things of the spirit and of eternity might have their 
chance. 

We lift the eyes of faith and hope to Thee. We bend listening 
ears to catch the whispers of Thy Spirit. We open our hearts to the 
influence of Thy truth. And we pray, O Spirit of God, that Thou 
wouldst break down and break through the barriers which our 
folly and our pride, sometimes our doubt and our fear, our hesi- 
tancy, and our reluctance and stubbornness raise against Thee. 
Come to us, O Spirit Divine, with healing, with comfort and with 
peace. 

Here, O Father, give us a new vision of Thyself, a new sense of 
Thy purpose in the world and of the mission to which we must 
give ourselves in devotion. We pray for a new sense of Thy pres- 

19 



ence in all the field of activity. Make us, we beseech Thee, as con- 
siderate in dealing with the faults of others as we are in dealing 
with our own. How easy it is to be gentle with ourselves and not 
gentle with others; and make us as strict in dealing with our own 
mistakes as we are in dealing with the mistakes of others. When 
we are wrong, we pray that Thou wouldst make us right, and 
when we are right, help us still to be gentle and kind and under- 
standing. 

Give to us in this hour of our waiting together — our praise, our 
prayer, our meditation — give to us, we pray Thee, such a sense of 
Thy nearness as may make this a high hour of the soul that we 
may go from this place better prepared to face the duties and the 
tasks of life because we face them not in our own strength, but in 
the strength of the Lord our God. Hear us, not because we are 
worthy, but because out of our need we lift our prayer in the spirit 
of Jesus Christ. Amen. 




20 




ilmighty God, who hast given us grace, at 
this time, with one accord to make our common suppUcations 
unto Thee; and hast promised that, when two or three are gath- 
ered together in Thy Name, Thou wilt grant their requests; fulfill 
now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of Thy servants, as may be 
most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of 
Thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting." Thus, our 
Father, in the language of the collect of the Church we make now 
our own humble and sincere prayer. 

Thou hast indeed given us grace to worship Thee. We come 
seeking Thee because Thou art seeking us; indeed we would not 
be seeking Thee except in some sense we already have been found 
by Thee, O Spirit of God, the Light that follows all our way, the 
Love that will not let us go, the Joy that seeks us through all pain. 
We love Thee because Thou hast first loved us and we come today 
not pressing our way upon some reluctant and unwilling God, but 
rather availing ourselves of the gracious and tender and warm 
welcoming of the Father's heart. 

Thou hast given us grace with one accord to worship Thee — 
adoration and reverence, thanksgiving and praise, wistfulness of 
our hearts, restless imtil they rest in Thee. And we come to make 
our common supplication. How varied are the needs of our hearts 

21 



today. How different are the burdens that we bear; the problems 
that we face; the temptations with which we grapple. Yet our need 
is one: a new vision of Thy face; a new sense of Thy presence; a 
new consciousness of Thy nearness, the greatest of comrades, the 
wisest of teachers, the dearest of friends. 

We come praying, our Father, that Thou wilt fulfill our desires 
and petitions as may be most expedient for us. Who are we, chil- 
dren of time and circumstance and shut in by a score of limita- 
tions, to press our claims except we come to make our prayer 
within the framework of Thy righteous and loving will for us? 
Hear us, our Father, not for what we ask excepting as we ask 
wisely, answering us for what we need most, granting us in this 
world knowledge of Thy truth and in the world to come life ever- 
lasting. Sometimes we feel like reversing the familiar phrases and 
praying for life, here and now: knowledge can wait, if it must, but 
life does not wait; and knowledge of Thy truth as may make for 
life in its fullness. Hear our prayer, O God, as we wait now before 
Thee in the mystic fellowship of adoration and worship. Amen. 



22 





Thou Eternal and Infinite Spirit, who art 
the light of the minds that know Thee, and the joy of the hearts 
that love Thee, and the strength of the souls that serve Thee; help 
us so to know Thee that we may love Thee, and so to love Thee 
that we may serve Thee and in Thy service find our freedom and 
in Thy will our peace. Keep us in this hour from anything per- 
functory, from all shallowness or superficiality of spirit. We come 
upon a familiar path, to be sure, yet we come into the presence 
of God. Let it by no chance be a matter of routine to any one of 
us and if any have come without alertness of mind, eagerness of 
heart, sensitivity, yearning for Thy presence, bring to them for- 
giveness, we pray, and prepare their minds and their hearts that 
this may be a holy hour for them. 

Make us devout in our meditation, earnest in our prayer and 
sincere in our worship that this may become for us not alone the 
house of God but the very presence of God. We wait before Thee, 
our Father, as we bring to Thee the deepest desires and the great- 
est longings of our hearts. Some of them we can voice, although 
with halting and faltering speech; some of them lie too deep for 
words but Thou dost not hear us for our speaking. Thou dost hear 
us for the desires which are deep within us and for the longings 
of our hearts and the aspirations of our souls. 

23 



We come, our Father, praying for a little while the babbling 
voices of the world might be silent and that the cares and the bur- 
dens of life might be laid aside as we wait in Thy presence. We 
come not only to lift up our voices in praise but to lift up our 
hearts to Thee, not only our Father in heaven but our Father upon 
earth and near to us as may be our need. We come, O God, to de- 
clare our faith, the faith we hold and even better the faith that 
holds us — these moving and mighty affirmations about the great 
things of our holy religion. Here we come to confess our sins 
humbly and with earnest hearts to pray forgiveness. Here we 
come to seek strength for the way of life, for light on the path we 
must tread, for Thy grace to undergird and sustain us on all our 
pilgrimage. 

Thou knowest our hearts and our hopes; Thou knowest our 
doubts and our fears. In this quiet moment let each of us lift be- 
fore Thee the things which are closest to our hearts — the anxieties 
that beset us, the burdens which press upon us, the problems with 
which we grapple, the temptations that swirl about us, the con- 
cern for the welfare of loved ones. As we wait before Thee now in 
the blessed and mystic fellowship of prayer, do Thou, O Spirit of 
God, brood over our hearts in benediction. Amen. 



24 




Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name 
in all the earth! Thou art exalted on high and yet not far from any 
one of us, the last and the least and the most lowly of Thy chil- 
dren. Thou art the center and soul of every sphere, of glory and 
majesty and power; but Thou art likewise of loving-kindness and 
of great mercy. Thou art infinite in holiness and righteousness 
which we cannot imagine or comprehend, but Thou art infinite 
in compassion, too, and with Thee is forgiveness of sins. 

We come now to worship Thee. Let our minds be alert. Let our 
hearts be eager. Let us wait in patience and humility before Thee. 
Thou art the Father of us all — good and bad; wise and foolish — 
the closest to Thee; the farthest from Thee; none of us are close 
enough and all of us are too far away. We come with penitence in 
our hearts, O God; for how far short we have come of Thy great 
and loving purpose and will for us. How thoughtful we are of 
ourselves, and how often we are thoughtless of others; their fears 
and their needs and their trials. 

We would remember them now, O God, in this mystic fellow- 
ship of prayer; those who are weighed down by the burdens and 
the cares of life, that they might find themselves undergirded and 
sustained by a strength which is not their own and which comes 
from Thee; those who are anxious for loved ones near and far, 

25 



that they may know the quietness of a living faith in Thee, Thy 
goodness and Thy love; those who are sick in body or in mind, 
that they may know the presence of the great Physician in all their 
needs; those who grapple with problems or wrestle with tempta- 
tions, that Thy light may lead them and Thy truth may teach 
them. 

Take from us we pray, O God, everything that fetters our spirits 
and that mars Thy likeness in us. Take away the dimness of our 
souls, we beseech Thee, and make us blessedly aware of Thy pres- 
ence all around us and within us, seeking only our welfare. Hear 
our prayer, O God, not because we are worthy but because we are 
needy and because out of our need we lift our prayer in the faith 
and the spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen. 




26 




eternal God, who art higher than our high- 
est thought and yet close to every one of us; who art forever be- 
yond the full comprehension of our mind — for how can the finite 
mind of man grasp the infinite mind of God? — yet very near to 
the deepest needs of our hearts; we come now in devout and 
humble worship. Thou hast been "our help in ages past, thou art 
our hope for years to come; our shelter from the stormy blast, and 
our eternal home." 

We come reverently, our Father, for Thou art the great and holy 
one of all the earth and of the universe. Thou only art God and be- 
side Thee there is no other. We come gratefully, remembering Thy 
mercies which are constant and unfailing — new every morning 
and fresh every evening. We come penitently, remembering well 
this morning our own shortcomings, our failures and our mis- 
takes; confessing — and we would not dare to come into Thy holy 
presence without confessions in our hearts, if not on our lips — 
that we have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep and 
have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. 
We come in hmnble and earnest entreaty. How many and how 
constant are the needs of life! But we come, likewise, in confi- 
dence; for Thou art our Father and we are Thy children with chil- 
dren's claim upon the Father's heart and the Father's love. 

27 



Comfort us, we pray Thee, in our sorrows. Deliver us from the 
cruel bondage of doubt and of fear. Enlighten our darkness and 
enlarge, we beseech Thee, the horizons of life for every one of us. 
Forgive us our sins. Heal us in the distresses which we know. 
Guide us lest we miss the goal. Strengthen us for whatever task 
the day may bring and sustain us by Thy Holy Spirit through the 
day of life, giving us, we pray Thee, some place in the Church 
militant and then soon or late, in Thy great mercy a humble part 
in the great company of the redeemed before the throne of God. 
Amen. 




28 




ihou who art most most holy and yet most loving, too; 
who art infinite in righteousness but of great compassion and 
of loving-kindness and tender mercy; who art perfect in wisdom 
and yet patient with us in our erring and foolish ways; we come 
now to worship Thee. With what wistfulness of heart we come, 
our Father, responding to something deep and precious within 
ourselves which bids us seek Thy face, the deep within us hearing 
and answering to the deep of God calling without, here where 
spirit with Spirit can meet. 

We come to take on our lips great songs of faith and hope and 
praise. We come to meditate on a bit of Thy holy Word, coming 
to us across the many centuries, speaking to us still in contempo- 
rary life. We come to open our hearts to great music so reverently 
and helpfully rendered. We come to bow in the mystic fellowship 
of prayer, seeking together what none may find alone. In wistful- 
ness of heart we come, O Spirit of God, here in this holy place and 
on this holy day, where to listen is to learn. Here we lift our eyes, 
the eyes of faith and of hope, to see things that cannot be seen by 
the eye of man. Here we wait in reverence and humility to find 
strength renewed, making us adequate for the tasks which the 
day may bring. 

Make us increasingly earnest in our worship, devout in medita- 

29 



tions, sincere and genuine in our approach to Thee that this may 
be for each of us a high and holy hour this morning. Here we 
would test our hearts and minds by eternal values, lest we give 
our attention and our interest to those things which are small and 
let go the things which are great. Give to us eyes that see, we 
pray Thee, lest we put our emphasis upon the things that are 
ephemeral and transient and then have little left for those things 
which are of abiding and eternal worth. Here we come to find 
again our direction, lest we be lost in the world, and for all of our 
going, missing the true goal. 

Send out Thy light, we beseech Thee, to lead us through all the 
journey of life. Send out Thy truth to teach us. And send out Thy 
Spirit to sustain us in the way. Make us more earnest disciples in 
Thy school, O Master. Make us more faithful followers in the way 
with Thee wherever it may lead. Make us more loyal servants of 
Thy will in which is our peace and in whose service is our freedom. 
Amen. 



30 





Lord our God, Thou art exalted on high 
far above our highest thoughts of Thee and yet Thou art near to 
the deepest needs of our hearts. Thou art infinitely holy but Thou 
art eternally loving; perfect in righteousness and yet of loving- 
kindness and great mercy. Thou art from everlasting to everlast- 
ing and we know full well the lash and sting of the passing years. 
Thou art enthroned in pure and perfect light and we still grope 
the shadowed ways of earth. But we come to Thee because some- 
thing deep in our hearts cries out to Thee; our souls are athirst for 
God, for the living God. When shall we appear before God? 

But we come, too, because Thou hast bidden us come. We do 
not come this morning pressing our way on a God who is reluctant 
and unwilling to receive us, but we come rather as children who 
make their way with confidence to the Father, conscious of their 
need, but confident, likewise, of the Father's love. 

And so we come to open our minds to Thee again, to lift once 
more our hearts to Thee in sincere and humble prayer, praying 
that the words of our mouths might be acceptable in Tliy sight. 
Thou art our healing and our hope. Thou art our courage and our 
comfort. Thou art our light and strength. Give us grace, we be- 
seech Thee, to see Thee above all the confusion and disorder and 
turmoil of the years and by that may we be comforted. Give us 

31 



grace to see the baffling present and the changing things of these 
days against the background of Thy righteousness and sovereign 
purpose. 

Hear our prayer, our Father, for our beloved country; for our 
President and those who are associated with him in the affairs of 
government. We are grateful that Thou hast led our people in 
days that are passed — the pillar of fire by night and a cloud by 
day. Give to us, their children, sure guidance in ways that are 
right and good. And we pray for those who are high in the affairs 
of the nations and who counsel together. Let that wisdom which 
is from above, gentle and kind, forbearing and forgiving, prevail. 
Create in all men a sense of their common brotherhood and their 
oneness in the family of God, and bring the nations of the world 
to a strong and a lasting peace, that the kingdoms of this world 
may become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Amen. 




32 




' e praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship 
Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, 
O Lord God, Heavenly King; God the Father Almighty." Thus, 
our Father, in the lofty and noble language of Thy Church, we 
make our own prayer. Thou art indeed exalted on high, God for- 
ever, and we are but men who walk the humble and the lowly 
ways of earth, yet we are men who seek Thy face and we are men 
whom Thou art seeking. And if we are of the earth earthy, like- 
wise we are of the heavenly, too, and Thou hast set eternity in our 
hearts and made us pilgrims of faith and of hope. 

We come, our Father, to open our minds to Thee, to lift our 
hearts to Thee, to test those things which we think and feel and 
desire and plan by the light that streams from Thy face, for Thou 
art God and beside Thee there is no other. Give to us Thy Spirit 
as we seek to bring every thought and desire into glad and willing 
captivity to that mind which was in Christ. 

We thank Thee for those strong ties which bind us to Thee. We 
thank Thee for that mystic yet mighty kinship which tells us that 
we are spirit, kind to Thy Spirit. We thank Thee for the visions 
which lure us onward and upward; for the divine discontent with 
what we have been and what we have done; for those voices which 
whisper in our hearts when we are tempted to put too great confi- 

33 



dence in circumstances, "not here, but yonder." And so we come 
this morning in glad response to that something which is deep 
within our hearts. Let us not be so dull of mind, so cold of heart as 
to be insensitive to Thy presence, the greatest of helpers, the near- 
est of friends, the truest of guides. 

We pray, our Father, that Thou wilt bring strength to those 
who are weak and for those who are discouraged that there might 
come encouragement; for those who seem almost beyond hope 
that they may hope in Thee; for the lonely that they may find fel- 
lowship; for the sorrowing that they may find comfort; and for 
all of us that we may be sure of Thy presence. 

Thou art the great shepherd of the soul; Thou art the lover of 
us, every one; Thou art our guide along the path of our pilgrim- 
age. Look upon us in this moment. We thank Thee for those who 
come with grateful hearts and who walk in the sunshine; let them 
know how to carry a full cup with thanksgiving. But we pray, 
likewise, for those who for any reason walk in the shadows, that 
they might not despair. Whether in sunshine or shadow, O God, 
keep Thy hand upon us and lead us home; for we pray it in Jesus' 
name and for His dear sake. Amen. 



34 




Lord, our God, Thou art not far from any 
one of us, closer to us than breathing and nearer than hands and 
feet, and yet Thou art He who fillest the farthest reach of the uni- 
verse with Thy splendor and glory. Thou art He who inhabiteth 
eternity and yet Thou dost dwell with the contrite of spirit and 
the humble of heart. Thou art exalted and lifted up beyond any- 
thing we can imagine or understand, yet in Thee we live and move 
and have our being. 

Thou dost see us as we are, our Father, as we draw near to Thee 
in this hour of worship. We come upon a familiar path. On how 
many occasions, in how many sanctuaries have we come, singing 
our songs of praise and of faith and of hope, bowing before Thee 
in the fellowship of prayer. But if we come upon a familiar path, 
let it not be commonplace to any one of us, or become a dull 
routine that has no appeal and no lure for our spirits. If we were 
to have today an audience with some of the great of the earth, 
what eagerness would be in our hearts! And yet we come this 
morning to Thee, King of kings and Lord of lords. Give to us a 
spirit of reverence and of earnestness as we come. 

Some may have come to Thee in this hour not carelessly, to be 
sure, nor yet casually, but with no deep yearning, no wistfulness 
of heart, no upreach or outlook of faith or hope or desire. May 



35 



something happen here in music or sermon or scripture or prayer 
to bring to them the blessing of a gracious surprise. Some may 
have come burdened and heavy of heart, coming to cast their care 
upon Thee in the confidence that Thou dost care for them. Let 
there be for them no disappointment in this hour. 

We come praying that Thou wilt forgive us our sins and as we 
confess them before Thee, we confess not alone those that are of 
the flesh, although none of us is beyond their reach and the fearful 
possibility of being spoiled by them, but we come to confess those 
spiritual vices to which we are peculiarly subject, we who name 
the name of Christ and who worship before God: bitterness and 
hardness of heart and an unbrotherly spirit. Our Father, grant us 
release from these things which mar the image of Christ for us 
and in us, and give to us increasingly Thy grace as we seek to bring 
every wayward thought and desire into captivity to His spirit. 
Make us to hear again in the secret place of our soul the exhorta- 
tion of the long ago: "Let this mind be in you which was also in 
Christ Jesus." Amen. 



36 





ford, teach us how to pray! For if, our Father, prayer 
is almost instirictive with us, coming easily and naturally to our 
hearts if not to our lips, yet how often we are unwise in how to 
pray or what things to pray for; so often seeming to be but infants 
crying in the night and with no language but a cry. 

We pray for a vision that sees the contemporary and the pass- 
ing against the background of the abiding and the everlasting; all 
the clamor and confusion, all the disorder of men against the pur- 
pose, the great and sovereign purpose of God; and in that let us 
find our comfort and our strength. The things that are seen are 
temporal. It isn't always easy to believe that, our Father. They 
seem to be so secure, so strong, and yet on the authority of the 
Holy Word we believe it. For all the clamor which they make in 
the world, they are temporal. The things that are not seen are 
eternal. Sometimes it is hard to believe that. They seem to be so 
remote often, so intangible and so vague, so far away and yet as 
near and as real as hope and love and faith and prayer. 

We pray, our Father, for courage — courage to stand for right 
and truth without flinching and yet with patience and sympathy 
and understanding for those who do not see as we see and Vv'ho do 
not think as we think about these matters. We pray for a willing- 
ness and even a determination to stand for our convictions faith- 



37 



fully and yet without bitterness of heart or resentment of spirit 
toward any man. We pray for wisdom that sees the difference be- 
tween the transitory and the abiding, lest we spend ourselves and 
are spent for that which does not satisfy us, that which is not 
bread, clutching feverishly after that which has no lasting or true 
value. And we pray, our Father, for faith, faith to believe in the 
ultimate triumph of decency and goodness and right, and in that 
conviction be encouraged to do what we can in the place where 
we are, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. 

Give to us, we pray Thee, an alertness of mind, an eagerness of 
heart, sensitivity of spirit to all the gracious comings of God; the 
grace to listen and be still, to be still and to know that Thou art 
God, the nearest of all comrades, the greatest of all helpers, the 
truest of all friends. Hear us, our Father, not because we are 
worthy but because out of our need we lift our prayer in the faith 
and spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen. 




38 




•nfinitely holy art Thou, O Lord God, and we come, there- 
fore, to breathe Thy name in humility and with reverence upon our 
souls; but infinitely compassionate art Thou, of great mercy and 
of loving-kindness, and we come to speak Thy name with confi- 
dence. With what wistfulness we come to Thee, O God, who art 
the Father of us all, obedient and disobedient, loving and unlov- 
ing. For that divine compulsion, that mysterious yet mighty some- 
thing within us which bids us lift our hearts to Thee, open our 
minds to Thee, stretch hands of faith to Thee — for this we thank 
Thee. Thou hast made us for Thyself and without Thee our hearts 
would still be restless. 

We come as children, knowing full well our own failures and 
faults, our own limitations and restrictions, our weakness and our 
waywardness and our wanderings; evil, sometimes; foolish, more 
often. But we come to Thee as Thy children knowing something 
of the goodness of the Father and we come, therefore, in a simple 
and serene reliance on Thy goodness. 

In the Holy Word have we not read that Thou art He who set- 
test the solitary in families, who brings the lonely home? And 
we come in the beginning of this week to pray Thy blessing upon 
the homes in which Thy people dwell; upon those who have 
united their lives in holy marriage and who walk the way of life 

39 



together; upon the fathers and the mothers and little children; 
upon those in middle age who take their own responsibilities and 
obligations of a different sort; upon those who walk now in the 
late eventime of life with the sunset full in their faces. Our needs 
vary, O God, with the varying circumstances of life but our need 
for Thee does not vary: the vision of Thyself; a consciousness of 
Thy nearness; a sense of the undergirding of the divine strength; 
the leading of the kindly Light — our need of these does not vary. 
And so, through the changing circumstances of life, childhood 
and youth and middle age and eventime, give to us the leading of 
that kindly Light and the gentle pressure of Thy guiding hand, 
O God. Keep us in all Thy ways and give us at last a humble place 
in the great company of the redeemed who stand before the throne 
of God; for we pray it in Jesus' name. Amen. 




40 




Thou infinite and eternal Spirit whom 
Jesus taught us to call the Father in heaven, we come now to wor- 
ship Thee. Thou art forever beyond our full understanding of 
Thee but Thou art near to us in our hopes and in our needs, the 
aspirations and the longings and the wistfulness of our own spirit. 
From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God and yet the gracious 
and tender shepherd of all our hurrying years. 

Behold us as we come, a company of people who bear the name 
and sign of Christ, taking on our lips great songs of praise, medi- 
tating together on portions of the holy Word, seeking Thee now 
in the mystic fellowship of prayer. Thou knowest us better than 
do our closest and our dearest friends. Always there is the mystery 
of personality and always the inevitable loneliness of it imtil we 
feel sometimes that those we love most and by whom we are loved 
most do not fully understand us. Thou dost know us better than 
we know ourselves. We are anything but clear, often, in our minds 
and certainly not sure of our own motives and purposes. Thou 
dost see us for what we are and as we are. Save us from the folly 
of any pretense or sham or make-believe as we come before Thee. 
Thou God seest us. 

And yet we take comfort in this, our Father, that Thou dost see 
us likewise for what we long to be in the deepest part of our being. 



41 



the secret dreams and the hopes which lure us on. Our faults, our 
failures, our weaknesses — how many they are and we can only 
bring them to Thee and plead the infinite mercy of God. But look 
upon us in might, our Father, strengthening every noble purpose, 
undergirding every holy resolve, deepening every serious thought. 
Make us more sensitive to Thy truth, more responsive to Thy 
love, more obedient to Thy will. 

In varying moods and with varying needs we come this morn- 
ing, this company of worshipping people. Some are elated with 
hope and the future is bright with promise before them; for them 
we pray. But some are discouraged and heavy-hearted and the 
future looks anything but bright or promising — for them, too, we 
pray. For those who rejoice because they are surrounded by loved 
ones and for those who are bereaved and lonely — for them, we 
pray. Reverently, O God, and tenderly and confidently, too, we 
commend these people to Thy great love and to the fellowship of 
Thy Spirit. "They that wait for God shall renew their strength, 
they shall moxmt up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not 
be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Let something of that 
holy experience come to every one of us. Amen. 



42 




Thou eternal and infinite Spirit, most holy 
yet most loving, too, infinite in righteousness but of loving-kind- 
ness and of great mercy, perfect in wisdom yet patient with us 
Thy children in our erring and foolish ways; behold us now as 
we come, a company of people to worship Thee. 

Here in this hour, our Father, we would test our minds by 
eternal truth and test our hearts by eternal values lest we look 
upon those things that are great as small and then think of those 
things which are petty as being important and sadly misplace all 
the emphasis of our living. Here, our Father, we would test our 
lives by the standards of the truth of the Gospel and by the light 
that shines from this Holy Book, Thy loving purpose and right- 
eous will, lest we stumble and miss the way. Here, our Father, we 
would recover our sense of direction lest we go in the wrong way 
to find the things which we really seek. It is so easy for us to get 
lost in the world, our Father, because the world is so much with 
us and except we be forever on our guard, the things that are 
really important, the things that are really valuable because eter- 
nal, will get lost in the shuffle of life. Save us from that tragedy, 
we beseech Thee. We go through life busy about a score of things, 
active in many, many ways and yet may come to the end having 
missed the greatest treasure of all. 



43 



And especially in these days, our Father, with their particular 
significance, looking toward the passion of our Lord, His cross 
and His resurrection, give us the grace to test our hearts and minds 
more and more by the mind that was in Him, bringing every de- 
sire and purpose and thought into willing captivity to the mind 
of Christ and giving to Him a devotion and a loyalty beyond any 
that we have ever given before. We lift before Thee our desires 
in many ways but one supreme desire: a new sense of Thy pres- 
ence; a new confidence in Thy nearness; a new assurance of Thy 
power; and as we wait before Thee, give to us, we beseech Thee, 
alert minds and make us eager of spirit. Let us know open-mind- 
edness and warm-heartedness and let the words of our mouths 
but no less the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy 
sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen. 




44 




Thou Infinite Spirit, higher than our high- 
est thought of Thee and yet near to our deepest need for Thee; 
forever beyond any adequate understanding and yet close to the 
aspirations and the yearnings of our hearts; we bless Thee, we 
give thanks to Thee. And we come to Thee by that great word by 
which Thou art best known, our Father in heaven. With a sense 
of dependence and yet with confidence we come this morning. So 
often we are erring children; so often foolish; so often wayward 
and willful and stubborn and so short-sighted; but Thy children 
still. 

We thank Thee, our Father, for those ties which bind us to 
Thee; so mystic and yet so mighty, they keep tugging at our 
hearts. We thank Thee for that kinship which we feel between 
our own spirits and Thy Spirit, something within us which an- 
swers to Thee. 

And in these particular Lenten days, this sacred and solemn 
season of the Church, give to us the grace of penitence and con- 
fession. Forbid that we should go through them with scarcely a 
thought of our own spiritual well-being or how far we are from 
being what Christ wants us to be. 

Help us to follow in reverent imagination our Lord Jesus in 
these forty days, listening to what He says, seeing what He does, 

45 



catching something of His own radiant and splendid spirit and 
thus come to the blessed Easter morning, rejoicing in the power 
of an endless life. And in the struggle which we maintain for in- 
tegrity and moral character, we pray Thy guidance and Thy 
strength. Some of us struggle with envy and selfishness; some 
with jealousy and pride; some with passions and tempers; some 
with bitterness of soul and unbrotherly spirit. Whatever the par- 
ticular field on which we fight, may we be conscious that we do 
not fight alone but that Thou art with us, the great Ally of the 
soul, waiting to give us the grace and the courage which we need. 
When the great hours of life come, help us to be valiant and 
courageous. But these come so infrequently; day after day the 
petty things. Help us to know how to deal with these without be- 
coming petty. Make us big enough to deal with little things in a 
Christian spirit. And whatever the days may bring to us of duty, 
of task, of challenge, of opportunity, yes, of temptation, give to 
us, we pray Thee, grace to quit ourselves like good soldiers of 
Jesus Christ, workmen of God needing not to be ashamed. Amen. 



46 





God, our heavenly Father, Father of light 
and of life and of love, great Giver of every good gift, infinite and 
unfailing Source of joy and strength and of peace; we thank Thee 
for all of the hallowed associations of this day. We thank Thee 
because Thou hast shown us the empty tomb in the garden of 
Joseph, the tomb that could not hold our Lord captive, and our 
hearts are glad in the knowledge that death hath no longer any 
bitter and cruel dominion over us, for He has brought life and im- 
mortality to light through the Gospel. 

Give to us the joy of those who have not seen and yet have be- 
lieved. Help us to exult in that eternal life which even now we may 
begin to possess and whose open secret is to know Thee, the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. 

Hear our prayer, our Father, for those who come to this Easter 
day after cruel bereavement of loved ones. Above and through 
and beyond all the glad anthems of this day, may they hear the 
voice of Christ Himself saying, "I am the resurrection and the 
life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he 
live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die," 
and may that blessed assurance bring peace to their troubled 
hearts. 

O God, who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, bring home 

47 



to all our hearts the true meaning of this holy day and help us to 
know in the deepest part of our being, whatever the circumstances 
of life may be, whatever the disorder and confusion of the world 
may be, help us to know that the last word is God's word, not 
man's and that the last word is with righteousness, not iniquity. 
It is with life, not death; with light and not darkness. Lighten, we 
beseech Thee, by Thy presence, every day and every road that our 
feet must walk, and when the evening comes, may it bring to us 
all the radiant hope of that day which shall endless be. Hear us 
because we bring our prayer in the name and faith of our risen and 
living Lord. Amen. 




48 




ihou art forever exalted on high, O God, yet Thou art 
not far from any one of us, the last and the least and the lowliest 
of Thy children. Thou art above us in glory and in power; Thou 
art around us in goodness and in love; Thou art within us in the 
whispering of a still, small voice. "Our best is but Thyself in us, 
our highest thought Thy will; to hear Thy voice, we need but love, 
to listen and be still." Forbid, our Father, that we should vainly 
imagine that we must make some arduous spiritual pilgrimage to 
find Thy dwelling place. Help us to understand, rather, that Thou 
art here. We have but to open our hearts and our minds to Thee 
and realize that Thou art beside us, the nearest of comrades and 
the truest of friends. 

We do not come this morning pleading that Thou wilt be here. 
Thou art here. We come praying earnestly that we might not fail 
to be conscious of Thy presence. And especially, our Father, this 
Sunday following the blessed Easter day, we thank Thee for the 
presence of the living Christ among us, the living Lord of life who 
rose a victor over the grave and who comes to give a greater 
foundation to the hopes and loves and dreams of men. Help us to 
understand that "we may not climb the heavenly steeps to bring 
the Lord Christ down; in vain we search the lowest deeps, for Him 
no depths can drown. But warm, sweet, tender, even yet a present 

49 



help is He; and faith has still its Olivet, and love its Galilee." Let 
that blessed experience come home with fresh power and meaning 
to us through worship together this morning. 

We thank Thee, our Father, for all those in every walk of life, 
by any name or sign, who are servants of truth and goodness; for 
all good and faithful administrators who are concerned with the 
establishment and the maintenance of justice among men; for all 
wise teachers who set the feet of youth in the ways that are right 
and good; for business men with large financial interests who seek 
yet to be a brother to their brothers on the pilgrimage of life; for 
the mothers of little children in the homes; for doctors and for 
scientists who seek to relieve distress and to blaze trails to new 
adventures in life; for men, whatever the particular walk of life 
in which they find themselves or the special nature of the work 
they do, that they may do it as unto God and in His holy sight. 
Let now, we pray Thee, the words of our mouths and the medita- 
tions of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our strength 
and our redeemer. Amen. 



Q (^g 




Thou Infinite and eternal Spirit, who 
dwellest in perfect light and yet art our Comrade as we walk the 
shadowed ways of earth; who art from everlasting to everlasting 
and yet the gracious and tender Shepherd of all the hurrying 
years; who art high above the earth and yet not far from the least 
and the lowliest of Thy children; we praise Thee, we bless Thee, 
we give thanks to Thee. 

We come in this holy place and on this holy day with their as- 
sociations, their memories, their traditions; we come to worship. 
Thou art God and we are but men, and we come to open our 
hearts to Thee, to open our minds to Thee, not praying that Thou 
wilt be here, for Thou art here, but praying rather that no one of 
us might be so dull of spirit as to be indifferent to Thy presence. 
We do not come in this hour of worship to force our way upon a 
reluctant and unwilling God; we come, on the contrary, accepting 
Thy gracious and royal invitation: Whosoever will, let him come. 
And so we come this morning to worship here, where quietly to 
listen is to hear Thy voice; here, where to lift our eyes of faith is 
to behold the King in His beauty, in glory and in strength. 

Give us the grace, we pray Thee, O God, to see the baffling and 
confusing present against the background of Thy righteous and 
sovereign purpose and by that vision may we be steadied and up- 



51 



held. Help us to know that "tho' the wrong seems oft so strong, 
God is the ruler yet/' and in that holy confidence let none make us 
afraid. 

We lift our prayer for those who come into Thy presence with 
gladness and with lightness of heart; may they find here some- 
thing that will express their gratitude and their thankfulness. But 
we pray for those who are heavy of heart and who have lost much 
of their music. We pray that something here may remind them 
that the treasure of God is with them and that Thou art He who 
giveth songs in the night. We pray for those who stride their way 
in boisterous and vigorous health that they may know how to be 
humble. We pray, likewise, for those who grope their way more 
slowly and sometimes painfully that they might be delivered from 
despair and from fear. We pray for those whose faith is strong, 
that soars and sings in confidence, but we pray likewise for those 
who grope in doubt and fear. 

Whatever may be the particular need we have this morning, 
whatever the particular burden under which we stagger some- 
times, whatever the problem we face or the temptation with which 
we grapple. Thou art all we need. Give to us, we pray Thee, such 
a sense of Thy presence and of Thy nearness here today, O God, 
that we may lift up our heads and lift up our hearts. Amen. 

52 




God, our Light in darkness, our Strength 
in weakness, our Help in ages past, our Hope for years to come; 
help us to see Thee lifted up above the strife and turmoil of time 
yet not far from every one of us. Help us to see Thee high above 
the earth yet brooding over it and working through it to accom- 
plish Thy holy will; and by that may we be comforted. For it does 
comfort us, O God, to know that when men are their worst. Thou 
art still infinitely good, infinitely wise, infinitely loving; and in 
that we find our comfort and our strength. 

Forgive us, we beseech Thee, our sins. Not only for the things 
that we have done which we ought not to have done, although 
their name is legion, but forgive us the things we have not done 
and should have done, for how many they are; the valor we have 
never won; the good things we have not accomplished and some- 
times not even attempted — carelessness and neglect as much and 
maybe more than our sinfulness. These, too, we bring in confes- 
sion this morning and in perutence and plead the mercy of our 
God. 

Let Thy Spirit rest upon the peoples of the world. In every land 
we pray that Thou wilt expose the hypocrisies of those who, under 
the name of patriotism, would despoil the liberties of men. And 
in every land we pray that Thou wilt restrain the evil desires and 

53 



the evil purposes of evil men. 

Create in us, we pray Thee, a sense of common brotherhood. 
Ever and again we are conscious and must be of those things 
which divide us. Help us, likewise, to be mindful of those things 
which vmite us; and if only we have eyes to see, those things 
which divide us are minor and those things which bind us are 
major. 

Give us then, eyes that see. Give us minds that understand. 
Give us hearts that love and are fUled with goodwill. Pour out 
upon all people Thy spirit, we pray. Give to us that wisdom which 
is from above which is full of mercy and full of faith — rich in for- 
bearance and rich in forgiveness. Bring the peoples of the world 
to a just mind and a pure heart, and bring men everywhere out of 
the terrible bondage of fear into an era of goodwill and peace. 
Amen. 




54 




ihou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth or ever Thou hadst 
formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlast- 
ing Thou art God." And so we come in this hour of our worship 
to cast the anchor of our faith in Thee, we who are children of time 
and yet heirs of the everlasting; we who are exiles from home but 
who seek our home in God; who are pilgrims in the earth yet pil- 
grims of the infinite, in whose heart Thou hast set the larger hope. 

We thank Thee for the associations which cluster around this 
holy place; the prayers, the praises, the yearning for God through 
the changing years. In that holy tradition we come to voice our 
praise and our prayers and to give some expression to the deep 
yearning of our hearts. We thank Thee for the associations of this 
holy day that calls us from the busy cares of life to meditate for a 
little while on the meaning of life and the direction and the pur- 
pose of it, lest we be busy yet not busy enough. 

In this holy place, then, and on this holy day we lift before Thee 
our burdens and our needs, our hopes and our fears, our desires 
and our dreams. O God, may each one of us find that which we 
need most in this hour. 

We pray that we might be gentle and kind with one another on 
the pilgrimage of life. Make us more considerate and patient, 

55 



more sympathetic and more understanding. How little we really 
know of those whom we think we knovv' pretty well and even 
those whom we know very well — the fears which may be in their 
hearts; the temptations with which they grapple; and if we knew 
more about them, would not we be marked by a great tenderness 
for them? 

We pray that we may have the strength and the courage of our 
convictions, willing to stand up and to speak out. But, O God, give 
us the grace to do all of this with humility of spirit, in kindness and 
out-going good will, for we are the children of God who makes 
his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and who sends refresh- 
ing rain without discrimination upon all who need. Hear the 
prayer that we make for the bereaved whose hearts cry out for the 
sound of a voice that is still; may they know Thy comfort and Thy 
peace: and let the meditations of our hearts and the words of our 
mouths be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our 
redeemer. Amen. 



56 





ilmighty God, who hast given us grace, at 
this time, with one accord to make our common suppUcations 
unto Thee; and dost promise that, when two or three are gathered 
together in Thy Name, Thou wilt grant their request; fulfill now, 
O Lord, the desires and petitions of Thy servants, as may be 
most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of 
Thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting." 

So, our Father, in words which are not our own and are bor- 
rowed from the great ritual of the Church, we yet breathe the de- 
sires and petitions of our own hearts. Thou hast given us grace to 
assemble in Thy name and in this place on this holy day. If Thou 
art the one who hears prayer. Thou art likewise He who inspires 
prayer; from Thee every good prayer cometh. Our desire to draw 
near to Thee was born with Thee. We love Thee because Thou 
hast first loved us and the love which we confess is only an echo 
love which Thou hast for all the sons of men. That we have come 
to this place today is because we were drawn by Thy Spirit to 
whom we come and whose benedictions we seek. 

And we make a common supplication. To be sure, we come 
from varying circumstances, bearing different burdens, wrestling 
with many kinds of temptations, needing many things. And yet 
beneath all other needs but one need: a new vision of Thyself; a 

57 



new sense of Thy presence; a new consciousness that Thou art 
God, our refuge and strength, and beside Thee there is no other. 
For with that vision and with that consciousness there comes light 
for the paths our feet must tread; there comes strength for the 
burdens which we must carry; there comes grace to resist the 
temptations which come to us and courage to fight the battles of 
life: a common supplication to Thee. 

And we pray that Thou wilt fulfill our petitions as may be most 
expedient for us, hearing us not for what we ask but for what we 
need. Our limitations are so very many, our knowledge is so im- 
perfect, our very wills are wayward and stubborn. We would not 
come this morning to pray that Thou wUt give us what we ask ex- 
cepting as what we ask is what Thou seest we need. And grant us 
in this world such knowledge of Thy truth as may make for 
eternal life through all the years to come. 

Deepen our faith, we pray Thee; broaden our horizons; clarify 
our visions; purify our purposes; strengthen our wills; and give 
us the grace to bring every thought and desire into harmony with 
Thy will. Amen. 




58 




ford. Thou hast searched us and known us. Thou 
knowest our downsitting and our uprising. Thou art acquainted 
with all our ways and understandest our very thought afar off. 
Whither shall we flee from Thy spirit or whither shall we go 
from Thy presence? If we ascend up into heaven, Thou art there, 
beyond our farthest reach, our highest hope, our noblest aspira- 
tion; and if we make our beds in hell. Thou art there." We may 
not sink so low or stray so far as to be beyond the reach of Thy 
love and mercy, O God. The darkness and the light are both alike 
to Thee. Help us to come, therefore, with the grace of humility, 
an openness of heart and mind, and forbid that we should make 
any kind of pretense when we are in the presence of the holy God 
who knowest us far better than we know ourselves and who dost 
see us for what we really are. 

We are Thy children, our Father, and as children we come to 
Thee. But be patient with us when we behave not in a childlike 
but in a childish fashion — irritable and petulant and short- 
sighted and selfish and willful. Make us more gentle and kind 
with one another, mindful of their rights, considerate of their 
needs — those who walk the pilgrimage of life beside us. We may 
not know the burdens and the cares, the heartaches and the lone- 
liness of those who are all around us. How cheerful and how confi- 

59 



dent they seem to be, but how anxious and fearful they might 
really be if we but knew. How free they seem to be from any ad- 
versity or difficulty, yet if we but knew the facts, what burdens 
might press down upon them. 

We pray for those in high places, O God, where responsibilities 
are enormous and where authority is far-reaching, that they be 
steadfast and true. And we pray for those who walk the common 
and the lowly ways of earth lest they be disheartened, thinking 
that what they do does not matter. We pray for those who are 
strong that in their strength they might be steadfast in the service 
of right, and we pray for those who are weak that they might be 
made strong. We pray for those who walk in the sunshine, but we 
pray likewise for those who grope amid the shadows. We lift our 
gratitude to Thee for those whose hearts are filled with laughter 
and singing, but we pray now for those whose hearts have lost 
their music and their song. Whatever may be our needs, speak to 
us what we need most to hear. Bring to us the gifts that we need 
most to receive, and may our minds be open and our hearts eager 
as we wait now before Thee. Amen. 




60 




A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR 



Eternal God, before whom the centuries 
pass in solemn procession and in whose sight the generations of 
men come and go, we praise and worship Thee. Thou art from 
everlasting to everlasting, yet our Comrade and Guide, the Shep- 
herd of all our hurrying years. 

Graciously Thou hast led us through the year now ending. Its 
days have been mingled good and evil. We rejoice in all its good- 
ness and confess humbly our failures and folly. We have followed 
too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have been 
too little concerned with having the mind that was in Christ Jesus, 
our Lord. 

Now we bring the record of the old year to Thee. For Thy many 
blessings we are grateful; for our blunders we are penitent and 
resolve, by Thy grace, to write the record of the new year with 
fewer stains. Be our Guide through whatever may be dark and 
uncertain; our Guard against all that would threaten the wel- 
fare of our souls; our Comfort in hours of distress and grief; our 
Strength in every time of need; and may all the years bring us 
closer to Thee, great lover of us all. Amen. 



61 




A PRAYER FOR EASTER 



Thou who art eternal and whose years 
know no end, we who are children of time yet heirs of eternity 
come now to worship Thee. Thou hast made us pilgrims of the 
infinite and hast set in our hearts a deathless hope. 

Especially we rejoice in all the hallowed associations of this day. 
We have seen the Empty Tomb and our hearts are glad in the 
knowledge that death no longer has bitter and cruel dominion 
over us. Thou hast put down death and brought life and immor- 
tality to light in Jesus our Lord. Give us the joy and peace of those 
who live in fellowship with Him and with Thee, and help us to 
live in the glory and power of an endless life, living as they should 
who are the children of God and who have eternity to live in. 

Help us to work with patience and to wait in hope and make us 
steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, 
knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. Lead us through 
all the changing scenes of life and at last, of Thy great mercy, 
bring us to a place in the company of the redeemed who stand 
before Thy throne. Amen. 




62 




A PRAYER FOR MEMORIAL DAY 



ford. Thou hast been our dwelling place in all genera- 
tions. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou 
hadst formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to ever- 
lasting Thou art God." Our hearts are comforted in the faith that 
Thou art our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our 
shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home. 

As this day of precious memories brings more clearly to our 
hearts and minds those we have loved and lost, we give Thee 
humble thanks that they are lost to us only for a while. On this 
side the sable curtain of death as on the other we are in the hands 
of our Father whose hands are very strong yet very tender. 

We bless Thy name for all fond memories and all living hopes 
and for our deep conviction "that life is ever Lord of death and 
Love can never lose its own." As we think today, and not without 
a tinge of sadness, of those who once walked with us but who are 
now in the immediate presence of God, we pray for grace to keep 
our faces in the light and for strength to walk in paths that are 
right and true. Give to us, soon or late, we humbly beseech Thee, 
an abundant entrance into Thine everlasting Kingdom where we 
shall be forever with the Lord. 



63 




A PRAYER FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY 



of our fathers and our God, we come to- 
day in devout and humble worship of Thee. We bless and praise 
Thee for Thy guidance through the years that have gone. Not 
without dangers and difficulties Thou hast brought us to this hour. 
May we not be unmindful of the leading of the kindly Light and 
the gentle pressure of Thy guiding hand. Give us such a sense of 
all Thy mercies that our hearts may be truly thankful and that we 
may show forth Thy praise, not only with our lips but in our lives 
and might give ourselves to Thy service to walk before Thee in 
righteousness all our days. 

May this season be one of rich memories and of blessed hope 
and of high resolve, our purposes lifted to new levels of patri- 
otism. Teach us to know that "the tumult and the shouting dies; 
the captains and the kings depart; still stands Thine ancient sacri- 
fice, an humble and a contrite heart." Thou dost dwell with the 
contrite of spirit and humble of heart. Give us that contrition and 
humility that will make our hearts a fit dwelling for Thee. 

Hear our prayer for the President and those associated with 
him in the affairs of government. Help them to be humble that 
they may be truly wise with that wisdom which is from above. We 
pray for those who take counsel together among the nations that 
they may seek the paths of peace and of righteousness that there 

64 



may be peace. Bring the world out of the bondage of fear into an 
era of friendliness and of goodwill; through Jesus Christ, our 
Lord. Amen. 




65 




A PRAYER FOR CHRISTMAS 



God, who didst make the ancient sky 
bright with the shining star of Bethlehem, shine, we beseech Thee, 
in our hearts to banish the darkness and bring in the dawn. Thou 
who didst guide the steps of Wise Men from the distant East to 
ancient Judea, guide us, we pray Thee, who so often grope amid 
the shadows and miss the way of life. We would find ourselves in 
the good company of those who hear a multitude of the heavenly 
host singing about the glory of God and peace on earth, goodwill 
to men. In reverent imagination we would join the caravan of 
those who make spiritual pilgrimage to Bethlehem to see this 
great thing which is come to pass. And in the midst of all the busy 
comings and goings of these days and all the delightful confusion 
of them, we would be no strangers to their deepest and their holi- 
est meaning. 

We thank Thee for our families and our friends; for homes and 
loved ones and all the joys of this festive season. But most of all 
we thank Thee for the revelation of Thine infinite love in Jesus 
Christ, our Lord. He has given us a clearer vision of Thee and 
shown us the way to eternal life. Into our restless and troubled 
world he brought the inspiration of perfect goodness and perfect 
love. Help us to hear above all the confusion and turmoil of the 
world the Angel Song. 



ee 



Grant, we pray, that we might have grace in these days to make 
all necessary and wise preparation and then, having laid them all 
aside, to keep open doors and wide spaces in our hearts where 
holy expectations may throng with their heavenly ministries. Let 
our minds be alert to all the gracious comings of God. Let our 
hearts be tender and responsive to all the influence of His pres- 
ence. Breathe upon us now Thy spirit, O living Christ, as we wait 
before Thee. Amen. 




&7 



THIS BOOK IS MADE POSSIBLE BY A FRIEND OF DR. MARK DEPP 



Vladimir Bobri has designed the book as well as all the initial letters and 
decorations. The type face is 12 point Palatino, designed by Hermann Zapf. 
The book was set in type and printed at Huxley House, New York^ on white 
Tweedweave Text made by the Curtis Paper Company, Newark, Delaware. 
The binding was executed by the Russell-Rutter Company, Inc., New York. 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



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